I’ve been catching up with some of the sessions from MS Ignite via the on demand function and one of the interesting events I tuned into was the “Discover what’s new and what’s coming from Microsoft Outlook” with Julia Foran, Allen Filush and JJ Cadiz.
Within the session they talked about how they have used customer feedback to help develop a better more intuitive and productive tool.
The new features that should be starting to roll out to Office 365 subscription users in the new few months are as follows; Focused
They received a lot feedback about the Clutter facility and how emails were getting lost in there when users forgot to check there so they have introduced the Focused view that will help to show a user on opening Outlook the important emails while the not so important emails will go into the Other view. This feature can be seen in this video:
Within emails you will now be able to use the @ symbol and then type someone’s name to help bring to their attention something in particular within that email. This will be especially useful within emails that have many recipients. It’s very like the mentions facility that Twitter and Facebook currently utilise so the hope is that users will be able to adapt to this new feature easily.
One of the major issues we’re all aware of if we’ve used calendars within an organisation is that shared calendars can be a pain to set up, access and view. This is set to change. Microsoft have put a lot of effort into developing a better and easier to manage system. The ability for an end user to share their calendar with a colleague has now been simplified and easy to understand. Accepting that invite to be able to view a shared calendar is much more initiative and grants instant access.
It used to be the case that you could only view a shared calendar from your Outlook client and that wasn’t reliable all the time, but now you will be able to see your colleague’s calendar from your Outlook client, your OWA session, or your mobile device (iOS, Android and Windows). Which is a great move and will be extremely handy for the one the go worker.
The free/busy time availability has also had some development. Microsoft have made it that Outlook will learn the top 50 users that you schedule meetings with and help to populate their free/busy information instantaneously. No more waiting on Outlook to find and display that info which was unreliable, it will now be available immediately, blink and you’ll miss it loading! And the even better news is that you will be able to see the free/busy information on the go, so if you are trying to schedule a meeting from your mobile device you will get feedback on your meeting attendees availability there and then.
There are also some other features coming along, which include the ability to see a small preview of any image files you are attaching to emails, so you can see if you’re sending the right one.
Outlook will be easier to set up on first run if you have signed into the device with your Office 365 account, which will be music to IT Administrator ears.
If you receive an email regarding flight information or an online order Outlook will render all the useful information; flight number, check in details, tracking number, etc at the top of the email so that it easy to find and see.
The future definitely looks bright for the features and functions of Outlook and I look forward to seeing them rolled out. If you would like to hear more and see these features in action please take a look at the MSIgnite session at https://myignite.microsoft.com/videos/4076
Also if you would like to participate within the development of Outlook please visit Outlook Uservoice and give Microsoft your feedback.